Why I Don’t Spend A Lot On Fashion And How I do It

It's not impossible to spend less on fashion. Whether it's clothes, jewelry or nail polish, you can look fashionable on a budget and here's how.

Quick shout out: this is my 100th post! So excited to have reached this number and with each post improve this blog!

I’ve never been one to spend massive amounts of money on clothes, jewelry or anything fashion or style-related. I may admire beautiful clothes and jewelry and wish that I possessed them, but I don’t. Even my wedding dress only cost a few hundred dollars. To be honest, while I love fashion, I just can’t justify the cost to myself more often than not. I’m not a queen or a princess, I’m not the First Lady, I’m not Angelina Jolie, I’m just me. I’m not under public scrutiny and even if I were, I don’t think there’s any need to be spending nearly as much as some people do on fashion.

The other day I was trolling the Internet like I normally do and came across an article about some dress Kim Kardashian was wearing. I don’t care for the Kardashians, to be honest I’ve never even seen the show, but I obviously know who they are because I don’t live under a rock. She was wearing this simple spaghetti strap black form-fitting dress. It looked much like a dress that I have and spent less than $5 on. Her dress? $88. And you know what? The whole point of the article was talking about how she was wearing something that “us mere mortals” could afford to wear. Wait, what? I’m sorry, but I don’t spend $88 on a dress that, while it might be good quality, is essentially a glorified nightgown.

This totally struck me as bizarre. I know that high-fashion is costly, it’s expensive and some women wear clothes that cost more than my yearly rent, I get it. But, I think a major problem that we’re seeing is that people think they have to buy clothes that cost that much to look nice when in reality that’s not even remotely the case.

Yes, quality matters. Yes, I’ll pay a bit more for something to make sure it won’t fall apart after three washes. Yes, I can see the value in investing in more expensive and very well-made items. I have clothes that weren’t super cheap. I have a black dress and blazer from Ann Taylor, neither of which were cheap, but they have lasted me for years and I love them and they get a lot of use. But, at the end of the day, they only cost a fraction more than Kim K’s dress.

You can look cute and you can look fashionable without spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. I promise. You don’t have to go to the most expensive stores to get good quality and very fashionable clothing.

So, how do I keep my costs down? Well, a few ways.

I Utilize Affordable Stores

I have a few main affordable clothing stores that I love to shop at and will always be my go-to’s. Primark, now that I’m in Europe and it’s more popular, is one of my favorites.

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I bought all of those items from Primark.

Pink Top: €11
Blue Dress: €3 on clearance
Necklace: €2.50
Nail Polish: €1.50

I can’t tell you how many times I have worn that top and that dress and they are still going strong. It’s easy to go into stores like Primark though and feel like you have to buy so much because it’s all so cheap. I know, I’ve been there. The key to stores like this is to go in and know exactly what you’re looking for, that way you won’t buy unnecessary items.

Unfortunately, Primark still isn’t super common is the US, but don’t fret, there are other amazing options. H&M, for example, is another store that I love to buy my clothes and jewelry from. Similar to Primark, it’s got really cute and trendy clothes, but also at affordable prices.

If you’re really lucky you can even find steals from Target or even Walmart.

I Shop At Second Hand Stores

I’m a huge fan of second hand stores and I’ve bought some amazing stuff from them in the past, especially in Australia when I volunteered at one. These stores have so much amazing stuff that sometimes is only worn a couple of times and then the person decides they don’t need it anymore.

The great thing about second hand stores is that if you go to good ones you’ll find great-quality items, as they won’t accept anything that’s not in good shape, but purely because it’s second hand it will be marked down so much. In the past, I’ve picked up designer watches for just a few dollars. If you’re looking for something in particular, these are always an awesome place to start.

I Set Myself A Fashion Budget

It’s literally impossible to spend small amounts on fashion if you don’t set yourself a budget. This doesn’t have to be a monthly budget or a yearly budget, even something as simple and easy as a daily budget when you go out shopping for the day can make a world of difference.

If I’m going to Primark or H&M looking for something in particular I’ll tell myself I have so many dollars to spend and I try my hardest to not go over that. That way I only look at the items that are in my price range and I don’t come back with something that was way more than what I initially wanted to spend.

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I was in desperate need of a pair of decent walking shoes and I went to Primark telling myself I did not want to spend more than $10 on a pair of shoes. I picked up these for €3, significantly under my budget and I love them. I have been wearing them pretty much daily for the past three months and although they show signs of wear, they’re still in decent shape.

I Try To Avoid Things I Don’t Need

This is definitely the hardest thing to accomplish and I am just as guilty of walking into a store and picking up another nail polish, another lipstick, another top, another dress or another pair of shoes that I 100% do not need because I already have it. Everyone does this, but the secret is being able to tell yourself no.

I have a decent wardrobe and there aren’t many things that I find I actually need. So until such a time arises, I try to stay out of stores for the most part. While some people have more self-control than me, I know my limits, and if I go in there without a plan or without needing anything I will come out with things I don’t want, don’t need and shouldn’t have spent money on.

For me, prioritizing is the most important thing. Travelling is where the majority of my budget goes and so I think to myself, do I want these $20 shoes, or do I want to put $20 toward an awesome trip? Usually, that helps convince me to set the item down and back away slowly.

Buy Something, Throw Something Out

For a while, we were struggling with owning way way way too many clothes and shoes. So I set myself a new rule. Every time I bought something new I had to throw or give away one thing in its place. As an example, if I bought a new t-shirt I would toss an old ratty one rather than carrying it around with me everywhere we move.

I don’t always do this, especially if it’s something I didn’t have that I needed, but it’s a great rule of thumb to follow if you want to buy some stuff but don’t want to end up with a ton more clothes. It’s easier said than done, but you’ll feel much better about yourself after.

I’m happy with the clothes I own and I might not be the most fashionable person in the world, but that’s ok with me. I know that I can dress myself up and go to a fancy event and I can look nice while just out having coffee with a friend, and I can do all of that while spending as little as possible and putting more money towards things that matter more to me.

It’s not impossible to not spend a lot on fashion, it just takes discipline and staying away from the stores that will charge more. How do you like to keep your fashion spending in check?

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  • Haha I love that you think the way I do. I would never spend $88 on a dress unless it was for a very special occasion, like say a wedding or something, even then, I probably wouldn’t. I like to wait for end of season sales and snap up some new stuff then. I bought a nice dress the other day that had been marked down from $65 to $10. Love this post!!

    • Wow, what an amazing deal! I love sales as well and also the clearance section–it’s always the first thing I check when I go into a store! I love to hear from other people who like to get good deals on their clothes. It drives me nuts when people go to super expensive stores and buy something that’s not even on sale! My wallet cringes for them haha.

  • I really enjoy clothes and fashion, but also don’t see a need to burden myself with a huge wardrobe or spending lots of money on everything. I usually don’t shop for myself unless I have a particular reason or quest in mind (i.e. like when I decided I needed the perfect pair of green skinny jeans)…and then I shop until I find exactly what I want. Also, keeping your clothes for a long time helps with the cost. Yesterday I wore a dress that was pretty pricey when I bought it, somewhere around $75…in 2009. I love it just as much as the day I bought it–it was worth every penny for the dozens of times I’ve worn it over the years.

    • That’s great, Rachel! Those kinds of items are always the best. I have a dress from Ann Taylor (just your standard, classy little black dress) and I think it was close to the $100 mark, but I’ve worn it literally so many times in the last few years that it’s totally been worth the money.

  • I don’t spend lots of money of fashion items either, although I admire them and I wish I’d had them. But it’s too much of an effort for me to be all fabulous.

    I try to recycle my old clothes. H&M have a great program: you can take old clothes to their stores and they give you vouchers.

    Cristina

    • Same here, Cristina! I’ve heard about that program at H&M but I haven’t used it. I love that though, it’s such a great way to encourage you to be mindful about what you’re throwing away/using.

  • I love shopping at second stores! I got one of my favorite shirts from one for only $3!! Sadly, a lot of the stores around me are closing down.

    • Oh no, that sucks, Caitlyn!! Second hand stores are the best, they always have such an awesome selection of stuff.

  • Sarah Jean

    I also love fashion but just don’t have the money. One of my favorite second hand stores in Buffalo has mostly new high end clothes with the tags still on for like $10 each – it’s awesome! I also only buy new pieces that will easily match other things in my closet.

    • That’s awesome, Sarah! That’s why second hand stores are always so amazing because you can get some awesome stuff for such low price tags and I love how it’s less wasteful.

  • I’m the total opposite. LOL I spend a lot of money on fashion but I do hit up all the sales and I have a budget. I still manage to always spend way too much.

    • Well as long as you hit up the sales and maintain a budget that’s what matters!!

  • Those sneakers are so cute! I’m at the point where spending money on clothes isn’t appealing to me so this is a great list!

    • Thanks, Adriana! I love the shoes and I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of them as well, which is awesome. I’m glad you enjoyed the article! It’s great to be able to stay fashionable but just not have to spend much.

  • Sarah Hartland

    Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  • These are great tips! The issue is finding things that are reasonably priced that are sweatshop-free… I hate the idea of a little kid making my clothing for 3 cents an hour, so I’m very conscious of that and spend more money on my clothes to make sure everything I’m wearing was made responsibly.

    • That’s great! I think everyone would do well to be more mindful like you are. Love to hear that.

  • I am right there with you! I definitely wouldn’t spend $88 on a dress!!!

    • I know, Susannah! It seemed crazy. I would MAYBE only consider that $88 for a super special occasion, and even then I would still probably think it was too much.

  • Great tips!! I’m in the US so I don’t have primark but similar places, I think!

    • I know how you feel, Bri. I hope Primark takes off more! Right now I think there are only three or four along the east coast. But there are definitely similar places like H&M or Charlotte Russe.

  • These are great tips! I’m a fashion lover, but a budget-friendly fashion lover! 😉 I could never spend $88 on a simple spaghetti strap dress, that’s just crazy.

    • That’s great to hear, Cara! The dress was crazy. In my opinion it didn’t even look that nice! Sigh, what it must be like to be rich haha. Really though, I couldn’t believe it, all the better things you could be doing with that money!

  • These are great shopping tips. I love fashion and shopping but at times I spend more than I probably should.

    • So glad you liked them, Krystal! I totally know how you feel, it can be so easy to be sucked into shopping and end up spending way more than you wanted to, I totally get that. This is why I stay out of shops when I don’t need anything haha!

  • Jacki Quinones

    All great tips! It’s so easy to over do it! I love clothes, but you can definitely just buy staple pieces and accessorize differently to save money.

    • Thanks, Jacki! That’s so true, accessorizing is the best way to turn one outfit into many!

  • Great tips! I’m the same way. I don’t buy much since most of today’s fashion has been around for CENTURIES! But I’m not complaining. I like that fashion trends always come back. Makes letting go of certain items worth it as time goes on. I’ve never really been madly in love with any clothing item, so I donate most of my clothes and keep the essentials.

    • Thank you! That’s so great that you donate clothing, I think everyone should do that instead of throwing away (unless it’s really ratty) because someone could always use it.

  • Adaleta Avdic

    I like to avoid things I don’t need or things I know I’m not necessarily ever going to wear again. I don’t need a “one time occasion” kind of a dress because those get old REAL QUICK! xx adaatude.com

    • So true, Adaleta! I think the only “one time occasion” thing I have was my wedding dress hahaha.